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04 Sep 13

What My Mum’s Black Labrador Can Teach Us About Pricing And Discounts

“But surely giving discounts is a good thing?”

I’m down in Dorset with my Mum; we’re walking her dog. She’s asking about my work and what I’m teaching these days. I’m explaining about pricing and the importance of not giving discounts and she gets curious. Why not?

I love metaphor, so I look out across the landscape. The trees… The fields… The blackberries… What can I use to help me explain?

Bingo! — Bungle

“Okay,” I say, pointing to her black Labrador. “What colour is Bungle?”

“Black,” she replies, no trace of indecision.

“So, you know the certainty with which you said that?” I ask. “Pricing – the way I teach it – works like that.” I explain that with pricing, it’s about seeing the price of your product or service right there in front of you, as a matter of fact.

There’s no question mark. You don’t have to defend or justify the price; it just is.

I ask Mum if she could be persuaded otherwise. “How about if someone said, ‘Hmm… I’d like to look at your dog, but I’d like him to be brown.’ Could you make Bungle brown?”

Mum laughs. She says no, of course, and that she’d tell them to go and look elsewhere.

Like dogs, like prices

The same principle applies to pricing. If your price isn’t the right fit for someone, they can go and look elsewhere. (Of course, they won’t find you elsewhere – which is why pricing isn’t about comparison or “market rates”).

“Now,” I continue, “try saying ‘Bungle is brown’. How does it feel?”

Mum tries it. “Weird,” she responds immediately. “I mean, it’s not true.”

Once you’ve set the right price for your product or service, a discount would be a lie. It’s not true, it’s not the price.

A black dog is a black dog. Your price is your price

Find something in your view right now. Your laptop, a window, a pen – whatever. What colour is it? What shape is it? Say these facts out loud. How does that feel? Now, try saying something that’s untrue. Say that your laptop is turquoise or your window is hexagonal. How does that feel?

Now, state your price. Say it out loud to the air in front of you and feel it carrying the same quality – of truth. It’s just what is.

Remember this feeling when it comes to speaking about your price with others. Speak your price as a fact, not as something to explain or justify or apologise for.

Forget about discounts and get on with doing your great work.

Over to you

I want to know what you think. What does your pricing currently feel like? Have you ever given a discount – and regretted it? What did you learn? Leave a comment below, let us know.

Prices that feel right

Discover how to set just-right prices; click here to find out about the Turn Your Passion to Profit course.


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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2013

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  1. Tim Gray

    Good post.

    Though now I’m within a gnat’s crotchet of inventing the hexagonal iPad. Hmm. 😉

    1. LisaZ

      LOL. You made me laugh today! And my purple mouse is round, which sounds kind of fun for a computer mouse.

  2. claire

    I still sometimes offer a discount, and I almost always feel it in my gut straight away and then I feel annoyed that I offered it. I’m going to spend the day walking around, saying all my prices out loud until they come out just as clearly as ‘Bungle is a black dog’. (and I have to say, he’s a very gorgeous black dog – and that’s a fact too!).
    Thanks for saying it all so clearly – I’ll get back to my soup now!

    1. Corrina

      Claire – Ooh, what soup? “My vegetable soup is my vegetable soup” – it is what it is 🙂

  3. Justin Bonnet

    “My desktop is a PC”

    Oh, what a horrible lie :'(

    Great post, thank you Corrina – this makes it very clear!! Much clearer than the kinda-existential-philisophical discussions about self worth that usually accompany how much you charge and discounts etc..

      1. Corrina

        Ah thanks, Justin – I’ll pass that on to Mum 😉 He’s a rescue dog and at first was very much bungled, but doing so well now.

  4. LisaZ

    Thank you for this. I agree, and like another commenter I just love your clarity and the simplicity with which you write. I found you through the coach network emails/forum and have been reading along for a while but I don’t think I’ve commented. I’m a newly CTI trained coach and have just started my coaching practice in the last few months. I find all this clear thinking to be so helpful and my business is thriving already, thanks to that. I’m charging an ‘introductory rate’ at this point yet, but I have made one increase and have plans to make another one come the new year. It feels ‘just right’ to do it this way.

    1. Corrina

      Great to have your comments here, Lisa. And totally celebrating your business thriving already – LOVE to hear that 😉

  5. Audrie Reed

    Hi Corrina – that makes SO much sense and such a simple way of keeping this in mind. From today my price is what it is for my services and products and a bargain they are too!

    1. Corrina

      Audrie – Delighted it’s made pricing simpler. And “bargain”? How about “incredible value for money”…? 😉

  6. Ann Brown

    Thanks for this Corinna. I love the way you explain this – no ifs, no buts, that’s just the way it is… (and no talk of ‘self worth’ either).
    And what a gorgeous black dog to demonstrate with 🙂

    1. Corrina

      Ann – Nuh-uh. It’s in no way about self-worth. As if we were only worth the price of our product/service – pah!

  7. Tim Emerson

    Wow. I’m totally busted. Yup, I’ve several times discounted and regretted it, and with a launch coming up, I’ve started second-guessing my pricing. . . but no more! It is what it is!

    1. Corrina

      Tim – Yee ha! Celebrating your line in the sand. Here’s to your pricing being loud and proud 🙂

  8. Jessy Paston

    Great post and what a wonderful way of explaining it! You are so right about pricing, it has to feel right otherwise it makes one feel greatly unsatisfied and unhappy 😀

    1. Corrina

      Jessy – Yes, and actually the client feels unsatisfied too. When I’ve received an uncomfortable discount, the energy has been “off”, so I haven’t leaned into the service.

  9. Tatiana

    Sometimes I’ve been tempted to offer discounts because I fear that people would be unable to afford my prices or if I want to keep a (low paying) client simply because. Also, discounts are seen as a way for new entrepreneurs to get clients. But I’ve become so wary of discounts.

    One program I stumbled across listed that all of its services combined totaled over 10K but was offering the program for a measly $199 a year. Instead of feeling as if I’d get a good deal, I was turned off from how gigantic the price cut was. I think I’d rather pay 10K if the program was worth it, instead of paying next to nothing. That’s so weird, isn’t it? Many people would jump at the opportunity to get something pricey for such a low price. But it just doesn’t feel right.

    Great post!

    1. Corrina

      Lisa – Black is the new black; your new price is your new price 😉

  10. Rosemarie

    Yes, great post. And I agree with Tatiana, when I see huge price discounts or offers of hundreds of free videos, downloads etc. etc. I just get turned off. As you say, I would rather pay the right price for something that is good. And yes, I have offered discounts and pretty much always regretted it every time. It’s just not worth it. Gorgeous dog – what a lovely way to remember this!

    1. Corrina

      Rosemarie & Tatiana – Thanks for being here.

      I believe that when we buy something, it says something about us. There’s certainly a satisfaction in feeling we’re getting fantastic value/a great deal – but getting something “cheap” can set up the self-image that *we* are cheap.

      “By spending this money, what does this say about who I am? What I value and my capacity?” – this is a question I ask myself, and that I imagine my clients asking. I want their experience of spending money with me to contribute to their good feelings about themselves.

  11. Chris Durrant

    Hi Corrina

    I agree about your price should be what it is. I do have a lower pricing policy for long term clients but it is done as a monthly contract and paid by direct debit. This allows me to help those people who really need long term help at a price that they can afford and also helps me to budget my year so is a win win situation. It also allows me to say to shorter term clients that 4 sessions does not constitute the need for a discount!

    Thanks for the blog, helpful as always.

    1. Corrina

      Chris – Good to see you here! Keep clutter-busting 🙂

    2. Alison C

      Hi Chris,

      I’m just figuring out how to bundle my work (as a bodyworker) and was very curious to see your pricing! But when I went to your site I got this message:

      ADODB.Stream error ‘800a0bb9’

      Arguments are of the wrong type, are out of acceptable range, or are in conflict with one another.

      /Default.asp, line 7

      Thought you might want to know!

  12. Caitlin

    This is so spot on, Corrina! I can’t agree more. It’s really starting to set in. 🙂

  13. Vanessa

    Quick story – I once took eight artworks to a community fundraising art exhibition to help out a friend who worried she didn’t have enough pieces to cover the space she had to fill. I loved the pieces I took. It never occurred to me that anybody would buy them, and in order to further help my friend out, I put astronomical prices on my work. We both thought “the other people’s artworks will sell and compared to paying my exorbitant prices, the buyers of the other artworks will feel they got a bargain…
    Nine out of 50 artworks sold that day. Eight of them were mine.
    The lesson I learnt that day is exactly as you have said in this post Corrina – the price is the price. And people will pay it. Happily, and enthusiastically! Vanessa

    1. Corrina

      Love this story, Vanessa. Sounds like there was no drama and no emotional attachment from you, and that let the prices be what they were. Sweet! (And now I’m curious to see your art-work – post a link?)

  14. Rosie @1ManBandAccts

    I do extra value instead of a discount. For my higher value packages if a client pays in full in advance I’ll send them a cream tea in the post. (And if anyone knows anyone who sells creams teas by post, please email me, as I;d prefer it to be a one man band working from home heart-centred business).

    I do get a lot of ‘so-and-so does it for less’ but I offer personal attention to detail and support, which is what makes the difference. I’m not selling that for nothing!

    *Waves at Bungle and offers dog bone*

    1. Corrina

      “so-and-so does it for less” – but yes, you’re not so-and-so. You’re the one and only Rosie 🙂

  15. Caroline

    I agree it is good to be matter of fact about price – it I still find it difficult – I operate in different markets, some of which regard my usual price as low and meaning that I am not to be taken seriously. I have decided to research the “market price” in each sector and be in the same ballpark, even if it is higher than I would usually feel is reasonable (not that too much money is a problem overall!)


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